Meet LONO: 2022 GoGettaz finalist helping farmers make additional income from bio-waste

Did you know up to 125 million tons of solid waste is generated annually and only 4% recycled globally? With Africa’s increasing population estimated to reach 10 billion people by 2050, farmers will need to produce more to meet the rising demand for food leading to an increase in agricultural production. 

In the agriculture sector, almost every activity generates wastes with some leading to health concerns through environmental pollution, economic losses due to poor handling of crops and emission of greenhouse gasses (GHS) necessitating for efficient ways of handling waste through recycling of biowaste products to drive innovation, reduce greenhouse gasses and job creations amongst others.

Ironically, while food insecurity is still a challenge in Africa due to occurrences of drought, impact of Covid-19, conflicts, climate change and soaring food prices; post-harvest losses account to almost $4 billion worth of grains alone. In Cote d’Ivoire just like in some other African countries, an average farmer generates about 10 tons of organic waste per year and biomass from post-harvest plants is not processed leading less value addition products and loss of income hence the need to promote circular foods and key components turned into useful products in the food value chain.

About LONO

One of the 2022 GoGettaz competition finalists under the ‘Impact’ category and co-founder of LONO, a waste management startup in Cote d’Ivoire is helping farmers make additional income from their bio-waste products through recycling. Biowaste refers to organic matter that is biodegradable.

Noel N’guessanhas developed a new technology popularly known as‘KUBEKO’ which is a portable small green box that allows farmers to recycle their bio-waste. Farmers insert their agricultural waste into KUBEKO which has a large opening that is closed once full for at least 3 days for proper decomposition to allowmicroorganisms either already present in the waste or added to aid conversion into compost and biogas -commonly used as fertilizer and an alternative source of energy respectively. Five kilograms of waste can be equated to two hours of cooking gas and 50 liters of liquid compost. Farmers are now able to cheaply produce fertilizers themselves and increase their yields and income. Some biowaste products used include: post-harvest waste such as peels, husks, shells and post-processing waste such as organic wastewater and sludge. KUBEKO’s inner structure allows it to maximize output per cubic meter with a payback period of below 4 years.

A process engineer by profession, N’guessan admits he has faced many hurdles among them during patent of his innovation. Instead of following the recommended Technological Readiness Levels (TRL) due to inadequate information he opted to engage his colleagues to come up with mathematical models before drawings and manufacturing of the prototype. As a result, he took more time to bring his product to the market. N’guessan has patented KUBEKO’s technology on the water saving aspect of the compost technology.

“High cost is a major barrier to adoption of KUBEKO by farmers because of high production costs influenced by soaring prices of steel. We are therefore introducing a new technology which will be a service model that allows us to install KUBEKO in farms and sell the energy and fertilizer to the farmers on a “pay as you use” basis” says N’guessan.

Today, LONO has sold more than 85 units and boasts of over 400 users who have been able to increase their agricultural production. The team has also secured key partnerships from various stakeholders and is now poised for scaling.

GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize Competition

A first-time applicant for the GoGettaz annual Competition, he is optimistic of the future having seen various continental organizations dedicated to supporting the  emergence of new forms of agriculture solving challenges in the food system.

“Understand your business well and showcase the solution you are solving in the food value, your value proposition and unique selling thread for your innovation” is N’guessan advice to agripreneurs who wish to take part in the coveted annual competition.

For agripreneurs making hardware innovation for agricultural productivity, N’guessan urges them to understand the TRL stages and develop a product development plan with key milestones before starting in order to  increase their chances of succeeding with minimum viability before running out of funds. Additionally, the customer validation process must be carefully planned with input from a diverse pool of users to ensure the commercial phase begins quickly after MVP. Lastly, User feedback and iterations also need to be included in the financial plan and during the implementation stage.

You too could be the winner of this year’s upcoming Gogettaz agripreneur prize competition! Follow our page GoGettaz and be updated.